Is The NBA Really Going To Hand Out “Significant Penalties” To Teams For Resting Superstar Players?
Imagine if you spent months saving up for tickets to see your favorite NBA player play. It doesn’t matter if that player is LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, or the 12th guy on the Milwaukee Bucks bench. All NBA fans have favorite players, and many of them do whatever they can to see their favorite player take part in a game at least once in their lifetimes. I can remember sitting in the nosebleeds back in 1992 watching an otherwise meaningless Chicago Bulls/Philadelphia 76ers game in the middle of February to see Michael Jordan for the first and only time.
Now imagine saving up all of your hard-earned money, scoring a ticket to a game, making your way down to the arena—and then realizing that your favorite player won’t even be suiting up that night. Sucks, right?
That’s what many NBA fans are being forced to deal with right now. Almost all of the top superstars in the league are routinely resting and playing way less than 82 games during the regular season. It’s almost hard to put too much blame on them—NBA players spend most of the year jet-setting around the country from one arena to next with almost no actual time off—but it’s still a bummer when you see kids lined up to see their favorite players play only to be disappointed to find out that the players aren’t going to see a second of action.
It’s gotten so bad recently that NBA players are even sitting out primetime games throughout the course of the season. Over the last two Saturdays, the NBA has seen players from the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Cleveland Cavaliers sit out during nationally-televised contests. So it’s not just robbing fans of the experience of watching their favorite players anymore; it’s also hurting the NBA’s bottom line.
In an effort to try and combat this, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo to all 30 NBA owners this week and told them that superstar players missing games is turning into “an extremely significant issue for our league.” He also said that the NBA may start dishing out “significant penalties” to teams that don’t provide the league with enough notice when they decide to sit their stars. And he informed owners that the issue is going to be one of the main topics at an upcoming meeting.
Is the NBA really going to take a hard stance against players resting, though? It’s going to be extremely difficult for them to do it. While it’s a noble cause, we highly doubt players are going to stop sitting out for rest-related reasons. They might have to hide the fact that they’re resting a little bit better—“DID NOT PLAY—SORE KNEE” will replace “DID NOT PLAY—REST” on the box scores of games—but they’re still going to find ways to get around the league’s mandate that players not rest so often.
If the league is serious about getting rid of this recent problem, they need to rethink the way the season is scheduled. It seems players are playing too many games—and playing too many games in too short a span of time—and being forced to rest more because of it. So if that’s the issue, why not either cut down on some games or find a way to space the season out more? It’s something that’s been discussed in the past, but at this point, it seems like it’s more of a necessity than ever.
One thing is for certain: If NBA players continue to rest as much as they are now, it’s going to hurt the league. Fans are going to stop saving up their money to buy tickets to games that might not even feature their favorite players, and advertisers are going to think twice about investing in primetime games. And that’s not what the NBA needs at a time when the league is flourishing and has all the momentum in the world behind it.
So what’s it going to be, NBA? Are you going to force players to give resting a rest or find a solution for what has clearly become one of the biggest issues in the game today? Your move.